Couple Invests 26 Years In Reforestation
Deforestation threatens life as we know it. A husband and wife team in India has drawn a line in the dirt to promote reforestation and biodiversity.
Pamela Gale Malhotra and her husband, Anil Malhotra, own Sai Sanctuary, the only private wildlife sanctuary in India and have been replanting and protecting forests and wildlife since it’s foundation in 1991. Today, SAI Sanctuary covers more than 300 acres of wildlife habitat that is home to more than 200 endangered species of plants and animals, including Asian elephants and Bengal tigers.
The Western Ghats of India is a biodiversity hotspot and many areas in Kodagu region have been declared as UNESCO sites. Unfortunately, this sacred land is under siege by a burgeoning human population and the associated consumption necessary to support billions of people in India.
“When we first came here, most of the lands that were sold to us, were abandoned lands,” Pamela told Great Big Story. “Abandoned rice fields, coffee, and cardamom fields as well. A lot of deforestation had taken place. And that took a lot, a lot of care and energy and time and years to bring it back.”
The part of India where the sanctuary is located, Kodagu district, has experienced a dramatic decrease in forest cover – from 86 percent in the 1970s to 16 percent today. Pamela explained that this has disastrous effects on rainfall patterns and water supply not only in the district, but throughout the south of India.
The forests are playing a vital role in regulating the climate and biodiversity conservation despite providing livelihood to millions of people living in and around the forests.
The forests of the Western Ghats region of peninsular India have undergone significant transformations over the past century. The nature, extent and causes of these transformations have been due to deforestation, overgrazing, forest fire, rapid urbanization, and encroachment for agriculture.
The couple is piecing back together the environment by ensuring that the forests can provide shelter for the animals, and the animals can help keep the forests healthy.
“We both feel a tremendous amount of joy when we walk through the sanctuary,” said Pamela. “I’ve never felt this kind of joy in anything else that I’ve done in my life.”
“When we first came here, most of the lands that we bought were abandoned lands,” said Pamela Malhotra. “It had abandoned rice fields, coffee, and cardamom fields as well. I remember walking through the forest, you wouldn’t hear anything but the sound of your own feet. Now, the place is alive with sound.”
Pamela hopes that the forest continues to be protected and expanded. Read the full story about the SAI Sanctuary.
Watch The Video About Rainforest Restoration In India.